When started internship for corporate25 years ago, I was (naively) thinking that sales is most important activity, in each company – it generates cash, the other departments are only back office consuming cash gathered from sales. I was perceiving:
- Accounting dep’t – as a pain in the back, asking for all those invoices, bills, proofs, signatures, POs etc.
- Finance department – as somebody asking the questions about the deviations from budget, and always not happy form results, cutting bonuses
- Audit and compliance depts. – nightmares – always unhappy, always too theoretical, repeating the word – procedures, without “practice in the real life”
And my thoughts have been supported by the Sales staff complaining about all those back office dept.
When worked in BIG-4 Audit, the approach started to change – all the procedures and processes became reasonable and I found all those complains as an overreaction,
But my optics has changed dramatically when being FD that have to take care about business efficiency, compliance and procedures. And I understand now:
- Why processes and compliance is so important.
- CEO or Sales Director beautiful ideas should be challenged by Finance, if the Business is to survive.
- Why it is better to resign from sales with a margin not covering costs.
- Why budgets should not be overoptimistic
- Why in a long run, the most important is a bottom line profitability, not big sales.
WOOLSTREET has been created as a result of my experience of operational efficiency in accounting/finance department. In all the positions I have been working on – FD, CFO, Audit Manager, SOX/internal controls manager, I have noticed 3 things:
- how big problems may be caused by badly organized accounting /finance department: (reporting errors, delays, lack of proper information/controlling reports, lack of challenging the sales and operational managers, too many products in offer, to many generals, too little Indians, and finally cash shortages) losing the chances to market success, growth, development
- how big, positive impact on the company operations may have the optimization of the existing processes/operational activities of the accounting/back office and finally the front office, making company management easier and allowing to focus on the core product development
- Even if the procedures and processes had been perfectly designed and working at the beginning, after couple of years, system becomes inefficient as the environment is changing, new staff is coming and starts cutting corners, etc. Finally the originally optimal system comes to the situation described in the point #1 above (big issue).
The above refers to all types of business in all cultures – European/US, in Asia, Middle East and Africa). It is always easier to manage the business if the procedures are optimal, proper controlling information is being provided, staff is properly cooperating and working efficiently whole working day, instead of thinking like “why do I have to do that stupid task?” and staying long hours with arising tiredness and frustration.
If somebody asks me what types of services I’m providing, I have a problem, as saying that “I’m optimizing the clients business” or that “I’m enforcing the efficient corporate governance”, doesn’t sound very attractive. To avoid that, I prepared a simplified lists of services, I’m providing (you can find it HERE). All of them relates to the same area (finance, controls and accounting), but in details there are so many different activities, that it may seems impossible to be done by one person. I present it like that anyway, to make your life easier when considering whether you need that type of service or not yet.
At the end of the project, there is a final meeting, and I’m thanking the management for cooperation, the Management thanks me for project completion, which is always nice. But what motivates me the most is to see the smiling faces of the line staff, happy that unnecessary tasks are no longer performed and that finally they know what they are doing and why it is so crucial and that good results of their efforts are so visible
When Project relates purely to the business restructuring, there is no better motivation, seeing the company that was just about to get bankrupt, starts to recover and gather now clients and better results, by focusing on the core business and cutting or outsourcing (if necessary) all the other activities. Of course the smiles on the face of saved staff is a cherry on the cake.
Woolstreet products are tailored to the all the customers that sees or only feels, the problems in their daily operations and they DO are determined to change it to focus on the growth, to cut all the “lines” preventing them from flying higher.
The DETERMINATION is a key word for here – it is crucial that client is ready for change and determined to implement it.
Working for the client that is still not convinced about the change is difficult for both sides. Without decision there is no action – so Client doesn’t see a progress, therefore the motivation drops and as a result – the changes are moved until never-happen future. For such a clients, I can offer, the identification/confirmation of problems and the preliminary remediation plan. Or I recommend to hold the decision for a moment until the decision is final and the determination exists.
To summarize – without proper determination of the Management/Owner, the positive results are not achievable
some people may think that my work is a kind of a Project Manager role, only controlling if the required task is done (of course other people) and putting a tick in the control sheet. That view is far from the reality. To identify the real problems your organization is facing, I am going to the bottom line staff and shadowing them to see the real problem. I believe that even asking them to describe what they are doing on a daily basis, is not enough, as everybody in such a case is trying to present himself as good as possible. Instead I have to see and test their real activities, and then I’m starting to ask the simplest questions:
- Why are you doing that?
- Why are you doing it in such a way?
- What is the biggest pain in your daily work?
- How would you like it to be done in most optimal way?
You would not believe how those questions are useful to solve the issues, but 70%- 80% of my project time is relating to that activities.
I’m not spending my time on preparation of polished Power Point presentations, calls, management meetings, hand-shaking, etc. Of course these activities are important and necessary, but they are not the most important.
Once again – the most important for proper identification of the problems and for successful change is a floor shop work.
Woolstreet is a freelancer company and I’m providing services to my clients based on my 20 years of practical experience in many business types, in various cultures.
When the project requires different areas expertise (six sigma, taxes, special valuations), I cooperate with the friendly companies, that may assist me to cover my limited experience in such cases.
When a team of staff dedicated to do a simple but important tasks is required (controls testing, transfer of data, etc), I am organising such a team.